My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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12 February 2008

In which we pick bones and try to make some points without babbling too much

I spent most of this last week at the Kala Ghoda festival. There were many panel discussions by many friends and two by me (which were totally last minute because of a mix-up so I couldn't tell you guys about it) and basically I've been a schmoozer. Schmoooooooooooooooooooozer. Good fun. Although I do have a bone to pick with Naresh Fernandes, editor of Time Out Mumbai, who was on the online writing panel with me. In fact, I have several bones. (I realise I should have just said these things at the panel, but I have acute stage fright, it's horrible. I just about keep it together. And by the time I muster up my courage to say anything it's time to leave. Sigh. Well I'll be speaking at the Kitab fest this year in Mumbai, so hopefully, I'll be able to not make a complete ass of myself then.)

ANYhoo, back to Naresh Fernandes (who says he doesn't read blogs, but if he's here, hello and welcome!). On the panel he said that blogs for the most part, were narcissitic, self serving, and really, who wanted to read about your visit to the store anyway?

I'll tell you who, Mr Fernandes, on this blog alone, about a 1,000 people every day. That's quite a few people, isn't it, who are interested in what store I shop at? My hit counter is now over five lakh people in three years, from all over the world.

Could it be the reason I'm getting so touchy is because maybe somewhere I think you're right? Some blogs are boring yes, sometimes I am filled with wonder that people read MY blog, seeing as the only topic of conversation is me, how fun can that be for anyone else? But, you know, I read memoirs. I read diaries of authors I love. I read other people's blogs to see what they've been up to. Sometimes, if I'm in a new city and I see something that's been mentioned in a blog I read, I visit it. Similar to what your magazine does, pointed out Annie at the panel, but then you said that your magazine had reporters who were writing what they thought the reader would like to know, as opposed to blogs which just meandered through the blogger's personal experience of a place.

Um, wouldn't you rather read a personal opinion? I know I would. I like food reviews and club reviews and things, and your magazine DOES do a good job with those places, I agree, but when I visit a place and write about it, I'm doing pretty much the same thing, I'm talking about what I had to eat and drink and whether a place is worth visiting. I think, from Google search stats that people listen to what I have to say on the subject as well, perhaps even more than they would with an established media brand, because I don't have an axe to grind. Perhaps, even more basically, because I'm not getting paid to write about any of these things. And because I'm not getting paid to write about, oh, say, a night at China House, you know when I say I love China House it's because I actually feel that other people should know that I love it for whatever reasons. Am I making any sense?

You don't read blogs, Mr Fernandes, which is what makes our opinions different because I DO read the mainstream media. Hell, I'm a PART of the mainstream media. I like to read reports in newspapers and magazines and then I like to read what bloggers have to say about it. It helps balance my opinions. It's also nice to see what other people have to say, other people who are writing because they LIKE to write. Are you not reading blogs because they're boring or because you actually don't want to know what a significant amount of people are thinking? I'm really curious, I swear I'm not asking just to be all in your face, but I'd like to know. But there's no point asking you these questions because (lalalalalala) you don't read blogs.

I would never define myself as a 'blogger' though. I have a blog yes, but I also have many other identities. The fact that him and I were on the same panel on online writing maybe should have told him that OTHER people took the medium seriously. Personally, I don't think you should take blogging TOO seriously. It's immense fun, yes. Reputations can be shaken, yes. But at the end of the day if you're writing something you wouldn't want to appear with your byline on it, then, well, you've crossed a line. And a lot of people don't get this. But I don't think you should be dismissive about blogs either. They're here, WE'RE here, this mass of people writing about everything from politics to books to personal lives. And well, most popular blogs in India and abroad have a far greater readership than a lot of magazines and newspapers. That says something, surely?

ps: I've been getting a lot of Facebook friends requests from people I don't know. If you read my blog and you add me, great, please just mention how you know me so I don't automatically ignore them all.

ps2: Please, I IMPLORE you, go read this post by Scout. Oh, scout, how much do I love you? Let me count the ways. Tee hee.


  1. I get to be the first one to comment :)! nice blog you keep here.....have read most of it in the past month or so! keep writing....

  2. Ohh , seems like Mr.Fernandes really tore apart the blog world , or rather the bloggers .

    But , Em,Chill.

    We have a lot of faith in you , and you need not be reacting like this , especially when you know what you heard was nonsense .

    I remember you telling me this , i you could recollect
    "If you believe in what you are doing , you need not be afraid of any one "

    PS: After all, blogs s**k! :-P

  3. Mr. Fernandes is oblivious to quite a few facts. Blogs happen to reach out to people from across teh world. And teh fact that there is a personal touch to it makes it all the more believable... Now when I'm reading a news channel I'm just updating myself. formulating opinion am not so sure. By the way, just as a case in point here, does he recollect the Jessica Lall case where the blogworld came out in her support and teh way things were written up (I hope I'm getting my facts correct!!) Honestly, he's not up-to-date or more probably, behaving as if Goliath when Divid came up against him!!
    Those are my two cents on this!!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Scout is amazing. Her chick blog is totally better than yours :)

    What were your blog stats like before the shit hit the fan (the media) ?

  6. I always do that! I replay conversations in my head and realise that there were so many things I should have said, but didn't say, cause of stage fright.

    Better late than never. I guess the whole new medium of people being able to express themselves, and it actually making a difference is not something media houses are so comfortable with... hence, they just go ahead and term all blogs as blah blah...

    Well, keep on writing... :)

  7. "but when I visit a place and write about it, I'm doing pretty much the same thing, I'm talking about what I had to eat and drink and whether a place is worth visiting"...

    quite d'you think I found this 'ere blog ;)

  8. I think all these relatively older people can't quite understand the blogging phenomenon. And they may be even jealous about your readership.
    You write so well that even your mundane lifey things become interesting, few of these journos can do it even in their weekly columns about interesting stuff.

    As a reader, I find this medium a boon. No Editor decides what or whose writing I should read!

    And please, no need to reason with us - we are 'converts' already.

  9. What phenomenon mentioned and I quote
    I remember you telling me this , i you could recollect
    If you believe in what you are doing , you need not be afraid of any one

    made me write this

    Em.... If you indeed said the above, I will just nudge you to think on the word ' believe '. What does it mean . Does it assumption? Does it mean blind faith? What if you use the word ' know' instead of beleif with no other change

    "If you know what you are doing , you need not be afraid of any one "

    This would convey a much better message I guess.
    Whats ur opinion.

  10. Well, since most people who drop in here are bloggers, you're going to get a lot of support for what you've written, eM.

    But that's not the only reason why Mr. Fernandes seems to have got it all wrong. I've been a part of the print media long enough to know that reporters, magazines and newspapers don't always write what they do because they think the readers wants to read about it. On the contrary, they write about exactly what they want to. Whether it's news or lifestyle stories, the media has a HUGE role to play in what gets noticed and what doesn't. So what is he talking about? There are a zillion things under the sun that I want to read about but that mainstream media doesn't think worth writing/talking about. So??!!

    And come to think about it, how different are edit pieces from a blog post. I mean, if you don't question why I would want to know what a certain Jug Suraiya thinks about nationalism, or what Shobhaa De thinks about racism, why should you question why I want to read a personal blog of an interesting person?

  11. Those who Blogers like Me hav to be read any blogs is related to their own interest........
    Hello commentators anyone can regulate blogs/bloggers/commentators as discussed in Ems TV show ...If Govt ready to privilege blogs under constitution..we can..
    GOvt should ready to make BLOG LAWS or BLOG DEPARTMENT...or shud make extra seat in Loksabha....
    The Emmmmmmmmmmmmm shud be the The Big-Blog MInister often....So I am expecting a Govt-job ..hey commentators anyone ready..I like ur initiative to this blog when I drive or VLOOKUP my eye-ball through ur commnts ...
    I have blog..but I wont publish or no need of publicity..but knows Me????

  12. I read newspapers, watch the teevee for news and shit... but I read newsblogs and general blogs more than anything. it has somethng to do with the fct that the news we watch/read is somehow propaganda or just stuff writers have to paid to write from a certain angle. With the blog world, it's clear that te opinions are completely of the author and that the writer has no ulterior motive.

    I think mainstream media is threated by blogs. Here is a medium that is truly free and anyone can publish instantly. I wouldn't ve surprised if Mr Fernandes ws merely reacting with that fear and the hope that if he brushes it away, it will disappear.

  13. um. a Lok Sabha seat??? Am I missing something here?

  14. This has nothing to do with the post, but Holy Cow! Six degrees of separation! I used to live next door to your cousins, and I've met your parents. I was about 4 at the time, but Holy Cow! We're practically neighbours. Kinda.

    Okay, not really, but I get all excited when I find out I know yet another blogger out of blogosphere. :)

  15. what D said!

    and also - mainstream media sucks. part of the reason i blog is because i am tired of the marketing team dictating what i should write about or which 5 star hotel should be given a good review because of a huge advertising deal.

    and finally - the problem - and here i mean this in the nicest possible way to mr fernandes... is that you really arent in a position to critique something unless you feel for it. you need to love films and breathe films and understand film to be a critic. you cant read a few op-eds on blogs and consider yourself an expert. you go girl! and next time have a stiff one before you go on a panel and give it right back to them.

  16. hello em,
    chithrakaran has writen a malayalam post about your article in vanitha (womens malayalam fortnightly)february 15 th issue.ബ്ലോഗിലെ പൂച്ചക്കുട്ടി വനിതയില്‍
    sorry 4 Off Toppic.

  17. Hey,
    Another serious regular reader of urs. lol . ;). Yeah well, U are soo right. There is so much more in the blogs.

    Personally I read it bcoz it gives me a chance to interact so much with people "un-like" me. A chance to peep in the worlds I never cld have otherwise. And there are so many paraller worlds in this world anyways :) . I have really learned so much from these blogs.

    Like u. Before I read ur blog, I cldn have imagined such an outspoken and bindaas girl. I still sometimes can't. Lol . Well, that is a compliment. Really.

    Ummm , yeah well thats that :) . Nice post, this one.

  18. I can never understand why most panel discussions on blogs focus on blogs -VS- mainstream media. I dont think either one of them would replace the other. It is only the most popular blogs - a few among the millions- that look and feel like mainstream media (and why not, they even hire professional writers).

    I would go to a CNN or an NYT for news only because I think they are credible. For many other things (restaurant reviews?) I would trust blogs/bloggers - anyone who's tried a restaurant based on reviews in the Times Food Guide will agree. But mostly, because you love the variety that is out there, and there are so many to choose from.

    As for a (relatively) small-time publication such as Time Out, I do not think they are any more credible or have a better user-experience than most popular and well-written blogs.

  19. Hey, you are the one with the book deal and the one getting a whole lot of attention....ignore Mr Fernandes. Focus on us loyal readers who like reading your blog...

  20. Hey!
    Long time reader..first time commenter..:P
    Actually what spurred was your fb requests part.. I did send you a message a little while back..finding you unexpectedly on 'india uncut' amit's friend list and then feeling foolish about it thinking that she'll probably get 100 such mails a day!
    and yea..Mr. Fernandes is conveniently living his lie..his flawed arguments and uninformed conclusions let us in on the pitiful attitude of conventional Indian news media..well insulated from every worthwhile grassroots revolution in the rest of the world.
    People DO want to read narcissistic and selfserving accounts of life or whatever..isn't it obvious?Why would they be up and running then?!

  21. Hi there eM. I started reading your blogs a few days ago. They are awesome. And inspired, i have started writing my own. I will be delighted if you visit mine once..
    please leave your comment, i will value them

  22. hey, since when does timeout fall in the category of serious mainstream media?

  23. I am not sure why much of the mainstream media and world at large think of Bloggers as completely insulated creatures, like they do nothing else but Blog. A Blog, is after all, a small part of oneself. Albeit, a fun part. Heh, to each his own I suppose. :)

  24. Read the article in Vanitha. Its great to to care a damn for what the rest of the world thinks.
    Just take care that being shocking is a by product of reality and not the sole aim of creativity. Best of luck with your new book.

  25. Oh! I don't know you much.. but I feel u r frankness personified. And sometimes it gives an idea that it is difficult to understand a woman ( for many, I don't feel so) Honestly, I like what ypu write. And if u r getting serious ( :)) after reading this....don't check my blog :)
    gud Luck


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